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Leagues: MLS

How Twitter Has Changed My Soccer Viewing

If you listened to the most recent episode of Feuerstein’s Fire, you will know that I was a bad U.S. soccer fan and watched the Costa Rica friendly via DVR the morning after the match.  Watching the game after the fact made me realize how my sports viewing has changed just over the past year – it was quiet as I watched the match.  Not quiet as in the house was quiet and the dog was sleeping (although that was also true) but the social media noise was quiet.  I tend to watch matches with a computer in front of me, reading Tweets as they come in and both laughing at the jokes while enjoying the thoughtful commentary in 140 characters or less.  But that was obviously not happening this weekend as I watched a replay of the match hours after it occurred.  Chuck Klosterman wrote a thoughtful piece in June for Grantland on how DVR is changing our sports culture, but I know for me personally its Twitter that has improved my sports viewing experience, especially for soccer.

Not having Twitter in front of me made me feel a little empty.  I am able to compose my own thoughts on games and don’t need positive reinforcement from others, but I like to know that other people are watching the same game and noticing the same things.  As those of you who are on Twitter know, there are some really smart soccer writers and observers on Twitter.  When someone like Grant Wahl comments on an aspect of the game that you also noticed, I personally love the positive reinforcement that he and I are watching this game the same way.  Call it self-centered, but everyone likes it when someone else agress with an observation.

Conversely, Twitter helps me catch the things I miss in real time.  As you know, I am a fairly late convert to soccer, really beginning to follow it intensely after the 2006 World Cup.  As such, I don’t have the historical knowledge of the game or the teams that many other fans and writers do.  I can find these thing out after the fact, but when I am writing for MLS Talk and the information is available during a match, that helps improve my viewing experience and post-game analysis.  Same is true for those rules I may not know as well or for the interpretation of the rules as the game is happening; Twitter for example helped explain in real time why Portland took three successive penalties in their May 29 game against DC United.  Again, I could have waited for the post-game write-ups but instead I knew the correct answer to my questions immediately.

But my favorite part about following Twitter during a game is the camaraderie with those watching the same match.  Even though we are in different parts of the country (or, in some cases, around the world), Twitter allows me to quickly interact with fans as the game is happening.  If you follow me on Twitter, you can tell that there are some people that I enjoy trading comments with during specific matches, both in MLS and the BPL.  You will notice that some of those conversations work their way into the articles for this site.  It is also the hash tags that allow fans to interact with others fans they may have never met; I know the number of people I follow has expanded immensely solely due to funny and insightful comments during a match.  This is especially the case in a boring match.  As little as four years ago, running blogs and post-match posts filled this valuable role, but they were usual after-the-fact statements that helped little in understanding and enjoying the match as it currently happened.

I am probably not saying anything revolutionary for people on Twitter and if you hate the idea of it, I probably am not convincing you to get an account.  But it is amazing how in so little time I am addicted to a social media site to the point that not having it up while watching a match feels odd.  I can safely say my ability to learn more about soccer and connect with great fans would not have happened without Twitter.

By the way, follow me @roberthayjr and Major League Soccer Talk @MLSTalk.

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  1. Charles

    September 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    There are 5 other sites ? Wow, I read a few from the EPL Talk
    site… First of all, wow, it is just one bit of gossip after
    another over there. Alex said, turns out Sam has a drinkiing
    problem, Joey is unhappy and wants to go to another team, such and
    such are having an affair. But also…..Found some of the same
    posters that are on MLS Talk ? WTH ? What a shock, those guys that
    wanted Landon to leave to England were there !?!?! Next you are
    going to tell me all of those reason they wanted him to leave were
    just convenient and sounded good as they were really to just
    rooting for him into a league they really follow. I don’t have time
    to follow a predetermined league, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see
    the Troll morons over there too.

  2. Earl Reed

    September 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Just as an aside, note that “Bobby Rhine” is trending on Twitter, a
    tribute to his effect on the American soccer community (his passing
    was announced today, at the much-too-young age of 35). The fact is,
    for most of us, Twitter is where we interact as a community, and we
    know that ESPN won’t be giving us thorough domestic soccer news
    coverage. So if you want to learn about anything soccer, you follow
    guys like Grant Wahl, Ives Galarcep, Steven Goff, or outlets like
    MLS, Fox Soccer, and many others.

  3. The Gaffer

    September 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Thanks Sancho. We’ll be adding the “Recent Comments’ section back
    soon. We’ll be making some small changes over the next few days as
    we work out the kinks. Cheers, The Gaffer

  4. Sancho

    September 6, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Nice new layout. Much better! I just miss the “Recent Comments”
    column, though.

  5. Charles

    September 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Some guy at Grantland can’t understand the drama without watching commercial…so much so it makes him like soccer LESS……and that makes me a bad fan? I haven’t watched more than a handfull of commecial/halftime games in ten plus years.

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